A warehouse lined with merchants selling fresh fruits and vegetables from nearby farms, meat raised from Ohio livestock and hundreds of different cheeses and breads is the place one man considers his home away from home.
The mission of this German Village scooter-riding resident is to preserve the integrity of food in Columbus by giving small farmers and businesses a place to thrive and sell goods in the name of American entrepreneurship.
When it comes to his love of food, David Wible, 57, executive director of North Market Development Authority, thanks his mother for feeding him food made from scratch with fresh ingredients.
Growing up in Detroit, Mich., surrounded by his family of transplanted New Yorkers, Wible was constantly exposed to the diversity of New York City and Detroit.
After graduating from Michigan State with a degree in advertising and marketing, Wible put his love of food aside to work for an advertising business in Chicago. He eagerly switched locations to Columbus when Red Roof Inn offered him the position of vice president of sales and marketing.
“I was excited to move to Columbus,” Wible said. “I like the dense diversity city living provides because it is a rich retail environment, everything is within walkable distance and I like an urban downtown setting.”
Wible’s entrepreneurial passion sparked while working with Jim Trueman, the founder of the Red Roof Inn. Trueman and Wible were close friends and inspired each other to push Red Roof Inn to become one of the best companies in the country.
“At the pinnacle of the company’s growth and success, Jim was diagnosed with cancer and passed away after a short battle with the disease,” Wible said. “This was one of the most difficult times of my life. It was a tragedy to watch someone pass away at such an early age.”
Wible’s entrepreneurial enthusiasm only increased when he began his position at the North Market in 2000. As the executive director of development authority, Wible’s job consists of mixing his love of food with his talent as a marketing professional.
“The thing here is that there is no typical work day for me,” he said. “An average day for me will include setting up the farmer’s market, meeting with officials from the city of Columbus and mopping up a spilled smoothie. There is no ability for me to say anything isn’t my job.”
The North Market runs on a staff of four individuals who work together to fulfill the needs of the nonprofit, independent entrepreneurial organization.
“The North Market has to be a well-run machine in order to survive,” Wible said. “The city of Columbus owns the building and the North Market Development Authority Operating Entity organizes the structure of the business. We generate half of our earnings from merchant rent, 40 percent from parking and 10 percent from fundraising.”
Wible’s humbleness masks the responsibility his job entails, but his co-worker Mary Martineau, 47, North Market director of marketing, is unafraid to boast of David’s talent.
“David is the visionary for the North Market,” Martineau said. “He’s generally here about six days a week and frequently stops in on Sundays just to keep tabs on things. His door is always open for anyone.”
Wible said the North Market is a true Columbus landmark and has been an important part of the Columbus area since 1876.
“Dave has an immense knowledge of business, marketing, food and people in general, which are his biggest assets,” said Amy Summers, 47, office manager of North Market. “He understands the importance of preserving the Market, as it has been for over 120 years but still keeping it relevant to today’s need.”
In terms of Wible’s future, he talks mostly of his son’s upcoming wedding and plans for improving the North Market.
Wible wants to work on a long-range market plan and further the Market’s “green” movement.
“We have a lot of green aspects to our business, for example, packaging choices, recycled corrugated cardboard and the amount of natural light available,” Wible said. “In my personal life, I enjoy riding my scooter when it’s warm outside. The smallest effort does something.”
As for his favorite food merchants this month, he says he looks forward to Jeni’s Ice Cream, fresh seafood and Omega Artisan Bread. As the father of two grown sons, Wible said his love for food has crossed generations.
“When I look at Geoff (my son),” Wible said, “I say to myself, I see where you got your sensibilities and style with food.”